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Developing Literacy in the 21st Century

We often think of literacy in a traditional sense: it’s reading chapter books, learning spelling, and practicing handwriting.

You may be worried that reading comic books “doesn’t count” or that texting among kids (with all those wonky abbreviations!) isn’t real communication.

You may wrestle the tablet from your kids after too much “screen time” because what could they really be learning on there, anyway?

But, if you think about it, adults most of their learning and communicating online.

You’re reading this very post on a screen.
You might have just Googled a few recipes for dinner tonight.
And you probably sent a few work emails today with some shorthand abbreviations of your own.

The reality is: kids need to be able to communicate online.

Literacy in the 21st century is reading, writing, speaking, listening, and VIEWING. When your child learns more from an infographic, or responds to their aunt’s birthday post on Facebook, or when they get to text their friends on a child-friendly app, they are developing literacy.

Reading is meaning-making, not just paging through chapter books. So, let’s expand our definition of reading to include how-to manuals, recipes, and directions for putting together Lego sets.

Literacy means enjoying a graphic novel and learning from a YouTube video.

Literacy means shorthand communication with friends in Roblox and writing an email to a loved one far away.

Literacy means getting absorbed in a great book and learning how to make dessert for your family from a recipe found online.

Of course, there are problems with screen time. Leaving your child to click around the internet, browse YouTube without a purpose, or watch TV for hours on end isn’t helping their literacy development.

So do monitor your kid’s screen time and make sure it’s strategically designed to enhance rather than hinder their literacy.

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